Activity: Growing Fruit in the Great Lakes

Summary: Students investigate how the properties of the Great Lakes support fruit growing regions.

You Need:

 

Procedure

As a whole class, discuss Great Lakes fruit growing regions and moderate temperature zones along the lakes. Investigate hypotheses:

  • In late summer and early fall, warm lake waters warm the air and protect fruit from damage by early frosts.
    • A: The first frost occurs later in coastal than inland regions.
  • In the spring, lake water stays cool longer than the air and land. Air passing over the lake cools off and stays cool around the fruit growing area. This cooling slows the development of fruit blossoms and blossoms form later when there is less chance of damage by frost.
    • B: The length of the growing season is longer in coastal than in inland regions.
  • In small groups (at least one group per lake), investigate the length of the growing season and report findings on data sheets. ‘Frost’ was defined as any day with an hourly temperature of 0 degrees Celsius. (Either Excel data set can be used, but note that one data set uses average daily temperatures, while the other uses hourly temperatures. Comparing results from the two data sets can demonstrate differences between continuous and discrete data.)

As a whole class, locate cities using Great Lakes map or use the Great Lakes Station viewer on the Great Lakes Observing System (GLOS) website, www.glos.us.

Go to the GLOS website and select “Data and Tools” in the top menu bar and click on “Observations Explorer.” After reviewing information about how to use it, click “Launch this tool.”

  • Select: “Search Station” Tab (upper right)
  • Enter search term by station code, such as ANJ (Sault Sainte Marie, MI)
  • Use the Google map tools to enlarge the data point on the map

 

Drawing Conclusions

Ask each group to report their results. In which regions are hypotheses A and B supported?

A: The first frost occurs later in coastal than inland regions.

B: The length of the growing season is longer in coastal than in inland regions.

  • Ask groups to present their ideas about which of the locations are the best and worst for growing fruit. Ask groups to provide evidence.
  • If the hypotheses are not supported in all regions, discuss possible reasons why and develop new hypotheses. Examples:
    • Conditions along the western shores of the Great Lakes do not support fruit growing.
    • Far northern Great Lakes regions are likely too cold to support fruit growing.
  • Discuss which data would be necessary to investigate the new hypotheses.
    • Temperatures from other locations within the same region.
    • Temperatures from locations in the same proximity to a Lake (such as other locations along the western shore).
    • Temperatures from additional years (activity includes 2008 data only).